The Johns Hopkins Biology Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young woman using a laptop in a desk.

The Johns Hopkins Biology Program

Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is renowned worldwide for its groundbreaking research, innovative teaching methodologies, and stellar academic excellence. One of the significant offerings of Johns Hopkins is its top-tier Biology program. The Johns Hopkins Biology program is a part of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and is acclaimed for its comprehensive curriculum and cutting-edge research opportunities.

Rooted in a rigorous and immersive educational experience, the program covers a broad spectrum of biological sciences, including molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Students are encouraged to delve deep into biology through hands-on laboratory courses, independent research, and close collaboration with faculty who are leading researchers in their respective fields.

With an emphasis on analytical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication, the Biology program at Johns Hopkins University prepares students for diverse careers in the biological sciences and beyond.

The Department of Biology

History of the Department

The Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University has a rich and illustrious history dating back to the university’s inception in 1876. It was one of the founding departments, emphasizing the importance of biological sciences in research and academic pursuits. Over the decades, the department has grown significantly, continually evolving to include more sub-disciplines and expanding its research capabilities.

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It has consistently been at the forefront of major scientific discoveries and advancements, including fundamental contributions to genetics, developmental biology, and molecular biology. This illustrious legacy has helped to shape the department’s reputation as one of the premier biology programs, committed to fostering intellectual curiosity, encouraging scientific discovery, and promoting the pursuit of knowledge in the life sciences.

Faculty and their Specialties

The Johns Hopkins Biology Department faculty comprises a diverse group of internationally recognized scholars and educators who are leaders in their respective fields. Their expertise spans a broad range of biological disciplines, including but not limited to molecular and cellular biology, genetics, neurobiology, plant biology, and environmental science.

The faculty is renowned for their groundbreaking research into genomic structure and function, neurodevelopment, evolutionary biology, and ecosystem dynamics. They have significantly contributed to our understanding of fundamental biological processes and complex biological systems.

In addition to their research, the faculty are dedicated educators committed to providing high-quality instruction and mentorship. They are integral in nurturing students’ intellectual growth, guiding them through hands-on learning experiences in classrooms, labs, and independent research projects. Their rich knowledge and passion for education and research provide students with a stimulating and engaging academic environment.

Facilities and Laboratories

The Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University boasts state-of-the-art facilities and laboratories that provide an immersive, hands-on learning environment. These facilities support various biological research and education, from molecular and cellular biology to ecology and evolution. Key resources include advanced microscopy centers, genomics, and bioinformatics laboratories, and specialized plant biology, environmental science, and neurobiology labs.

In addition to individual faculty research laboratories, the department provides common-use facilities with the latest scientific instruments. This enables students and researchers to engage in cutting-edge research projects, explore novel ideas, and make significant contributions to the field of biology.

Furthermore, the department’s proximity to other science and medical departments within the university encourages interdisciplinary collaboration and sharing of resources, thereby fostering a vibrant and integrative scientific community.

Partnerships and Collaborations

The Johns Hopkins Biology Department strongly emphasizes partnerships and collaborations, recognizing that groundbreaking scientific discovery often occurs at the intersection of diverse disciplines. The department has established partnerships with various other departments within the university, including the School of Medicine, the Department of Biophysics, the Department of Biostatistics, and the School of Public Health, among others.

These collaborations foster a rich, interdisciplinary research environment that enables tackling complex biological questions from multiple perspectives. The department also collaborates with external research institutions, government agencies, and industry partners, both domestically and internationally.

These partnerships provide students and faculty with unique opportunities to participate in wide-ranging research projects, gain new insights, and contribute to scientific advancements across the globe. The emphasis on collaborative research underscores the department’s commitment to integrating knowledge and promoting innovation in the field of biology.

John Hopkins Undergraduate Programs

Degree Programs

Two John Hopkins Undergraduate Programs are offered in the Department of Biology designed to cater to students’ varying interests and career goals. The Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology is an intensive program that provides a deep understanding of the fundamental processes that control life at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.

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This degree is designed for students who are particularly interested in biomedical research, medicine, biotechnology, and related fields. The curriculum emphasizes laboratory research, critical analysis of scientific literature, and the development of independent research projects. On the other hand, the Bachelor of Arts in Biology provides a broad education in biology while allowing students to pursue other academic interests across the arts and sciences.

This degree can be an ideal choice for students who want a career in biology but also have strong interests in other fields, such as humanities, social sciences, or arts. Both programs are firmly grounded in rigorous scientific theory and practice while promoting critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication skills.


The curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Bachelor of Arts in Biology at Johns Hopkins University is carefully crafted to provide a comprehensive education in the life sciences. The core courses provide a strong foundational understanding of the principles of biology.

They include subjects such as Biochemistry, Genetics, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, and Evolutionary Biology. These courses are designed to equip students with essential knowledge and skills in the biological sciences, preparing them for more advanced study and research.

In addition to the core courses, students also have the opportunity to select from a variety of elective courses based on their specific interests and career goals. The elective courses cover a broad range of topics, from Neurobiology and Immunology to Environmental Science and Plant Biology. These courses allow students to delve deeper into specialized areas of biology, fostering a more profound understanding and appreciation of the field’s breadth and complexity.

Importantly, the curriculum encourages hands-on learning experiences through laboratory work and research projects, enhancing students’ practical skills and scientific literacy. Whether it’s exploring the intricacies of genetic engineering, the dynamics of ecosystems, or the mysteries of the human brain, students have the freedom to shape their educational journey according to their passions and career aspirations.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Johns Hopkins Biology Department offers myriad undergraduate research opportunities, a cornerstone of the department’s commitment to experiential learning. From the early stages of their academic journey, students are encouraged to participate in independent research projects under the guidance of faculty members.

These projects span the full spectrum of biological sciences, from molecular genetics and cellular biology to ecology and evolution. Many students engage in research through summer internships, semester-long projects, or even multi-year endeavors that can culminate in a senior thesis.

In addition, the department has a range of funded research programs, such as the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, which grants students for research projects in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Students gain hands-on experience designing and executing experiments, analyzing data, and interpreting results through these opportunities.

This direct involvement in research enriches their understanding of biology. It fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, preparing them for a wide range of careers in science and beyond.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Johns Hopkins University strongly encourages its Biology students to engage in study abroad programs to broaden their academic horizons and develop a global perspective. Through partnerships with numerous universities and institutions worldwide, students can spend a semester or a year studying in a different country.

These programs enable students to immerse themselves in a new culture and environment while continuing their biology studies. Students can choose programs that align with their specific interests in biology, from tropical ecology programs in Costa Rica to molecular biology programs in Europe. They may also participate in research projects or internships abroad, gaining international lab experience.

Importantly, these study abroad experiences are carefully designed to integrate seamlessly with the student’s academic plan at Johns Hopkins, ensuring that they stay on track with their degree requirements. Through these international experiences, students cultivate adaptability, cross-cultural communication skills, and a global understanding of science and its role in society.

Internships and Co-op Programs

Internships and co-op programs are an integral part of the Biology program at Johns Hopkins University, providing students with practical experience and a chance to apply classroom knowledge in a real-world setting.

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The university has partnerships with numerous local and national organizations, research institutions, and industries, allowing students to explore a variety of professional opportunities in biological research, healthcare, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, environmental conservation, and more.

Co-op programs offer extended work terms, giving students a more in-depth experience in a professional environment. These opportunities can help students build valuable networks, acquire practical skills, and gain insights into potential career paths.

The department’s dedicated career services staff assist students in finding internships and co-op positions that align with their career goals and academic interests. They also provide support throughout the application process, from resume review to interview preparation, ensuring students are well-prepared to make the most of these opportunities.

Johns Hopkins Graduate Program

Degree Programs

At the graduate level, Johns Hopkins Biology Department offers a Master’s in Biology and a Doctoral Program in Biology, designed to deepen students’ understanding of the life sciences and foster their development as independent researchers. The Master’s in Biology is a rigorous program that provides advanced knowledge in core areas of biology and specialized areas chosen by the student.

As part of the Johns Hopkins Graduate Program, It’s well-suited for students pursuing careers in research, education, healthcare, and industry or planning to continue to a Ph.D. program. The curriculum involves coursework, research, and a thesis project under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

The Doctoral Program in Biology is a research-intensive program aimed at students who aspire to contribute to the scientific community through original research. The program emphasizes the development of independent research skills, with students conducting novel research under the mentorship of a faculty advisor.

Students also take advanced courses in their areas of interest and participate in departmental seminars and colloquia. Upon completion of the program, students are expected to produce a dissertation that contributes new knowledge to the field of biology. Both programs provide a supportive and stimulating academic environment that promotes the growth of students as scientists and scholars.


The curriculum for the Master’s and Doctoral programs in Biology at Johns Hopkins University is designed to provide advanced knowledge in the life sciences and foster research expertise. For both programs, core courses are tailored to build on the foundational knowledge students gained during their undergraduate studies and provide deeper insights into areas such as Molecular Biology, Genetics, Biochemistry, and Cell Biology. These courses are intended to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles of biology at an advanced level.

Marine Biologists working at the beach coast

In addition to core courses, students can choose from a range of elective courses, allowing them to specialize in areas of their interest. The elective courses cover specialized topics, such as Neurobiology, Immunology, Genomic Science, Environmental Biology, and more. These courses allow students to tailor their educational experience to align with their career goals and research interests. Both core and elective courses emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and research skills, preparing students for the rigors of independent research and diverse career paths in the field of biology.

Research Opportunities

Graduate research opportunities at Johns Hopkins Biology Department are extensive and diverse, reflecting the broad spectrum of biological sciences. The department’s renowned faculty lead research in areas such as molecular biology, genetics, neurobiology, plant biology, and environmental science, and graduate students play a crucial role in these research endeavors.

Both Master’s and Doctoral students have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research projects under the mentorship of faculty advisors. These projects contribute to advancing scientific knowledge and help students develop essential research skills, such as experimental design, data analysis, and scientific writing. Doctoral students, in particular, are expected to conduct original research that culminates in a dissertation, contributing new knowledge to the field of biology.

In addition to research within the department, students also have opportunities to collaborate with other departments and research institutions, broadening their research perspectives and experiences. These research opportunities are fundamental to the department’s mission of fostering the growth of students as independent scientists and scholars.

Graduate Teaching Opportunities

Graduate students at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Biology have numerous opportunities to gain teaching experience, an integral part of their academic and professional development. As Teaching Assistants (TAs), students have the chance to assist faculty members with undergraduate courses, leading discussion sections, lab sessions, or problem-solving sessions. This role often involves grading assignments, preparing teaching materials, and providing academic support to students during office hours.

Some advanced graduate students may also be able to co-teach courses with faculty or lead their courses. These teaching experiences help students develop essential skills such as communication, leadership, and pedagogy and deepen their understanding of the subject matter.

The department provides support and training for TAs, including orientation sessions, teaching workshops, and ongoing mentorship, ensuring that graduate students are well-prepared for their teaching roles. These teaching opportunities underscore the department’s commitment to the comprehensive training of its graduate students.

Career Support and Resources

Johns Hopkins Biology Department offers robust career support and resources for its graduate students, preparing them for a wide range of careers within and beyond academia. The university’s career center provides a suite of services, including career counseling, job search resources, resume and cover letter review, interview preparation, and networking events.

They also offer workshops and seminars on career exploration, industry transition, and transferable skills development. The department often hosts career panels and networking events with alumni and professionals in various fields of biology. Additionally, the university’s extensive alumni network can be a valuable resource for students seeking career advice and opportunities.

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For those interested in academic careers, the department provides support for grant writing, publishing research, and navigating the academic job market. These resources aim to ensure students are well-equipped to transition into their careers and succeed in their chosen paths.

Johns Hopkins Research and Discovery

Overview of Research Areas

The Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University is engaged in a broad range of research areas, reflecting the diverse interests of its faculty and the breadth of the field of biology. One key area of focus is Molecular and Cellular Biology, where researchers study the fundamental processes that govern life at the molecular and cellular level, exploring topics like gene regulation, protein function, and cell division.

Another significant area of research is Genetics and Genomics, where researchers use advanced genomic techniques to understand the genetic basis of biological traits and diseases. Neurobiology is another major research area, focusing on the structure and function of the nervous system, with applications to neurological disorders.

Johns Hopkins Research in the area of Environmental Biology and Ecology focuses on understanding the interactions between organisms and their environment, addressing important issues like biodiversity, conservation, and climate change.

The department also has a strong focus on Plant Biology, studying plant development, physiology, and response to environmental conditions. Across all these research areas, faculty and students are conducting groundbreaking research that contributes to our understanding of life and our ability to address pressing health, environment, and agriculture challenges.

Notable Discoveries and Contributions

Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Biology has been at the forefront of numerous notable discoveries and contributions to the field of biology. Researchers within the department have made significant strides in understanding cell division’s complex mechanisms and identified key genes involved in this process. This work has important implications for understanding cancer and other diseases where cell division is disrupted.

In the field of neurobiology, faculty have made groundbreaking discoveries about the functioning of the nervous system, including elucidating the role of specific proteins in neural communication and understanding how neural circuits process information. Moreover, the department’s ecologists have made critical contributions to our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem function, including the impacts of climate change on different species and habitats.

Additionally, plant biologists have made important discoveries about plant development and response to environmental stress, contributing to efforts to improve crop yields and resilience. These are just a few examples of the department’s many contributions to advancing knowledge in biology.

Ongoing Projects

There are a multitude of ongoing projects within the Johns Hopkins Biology Department that reflect the diversity of its research interests. For example, in the field of Molecular and Cellular Biology, one ongoing project is focused on studying the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication and repair, which is essential for understanding many diseases, including cancer.

In Neurobiology, a research team explores the neural circuits and mechanisms involved in sensory perception and memory, with implications for neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. In the area of Environmental Biology and Ecology, ongoing research projects include studies on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and efforts to develop new methods for conserving endangered species.

Additionally, in Plant Biology, research is underway to understand plant responses to environmental stress and develop more resilient crop varieties. These projects, among many others, highlight the department’s commitment to pioneering research that can contribute to our understanding of life and address key societal challenges.

Research Funding

Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Biology benefits from robust research funding supporting its extensive and diverse research efforts. The funding comes from various sources, including federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which provide grants for research in areas such as molecular biology, genetics, neurobiology, and ecology.

The department also receives funding from private foundations and industry partners, reflecting the relevance and impact of its research on both fundamental science and practical applications. Furthermore, faculty and students often secure individual research grants and fellowships to support their projects.

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In addition to directly funding research projects, these resources also support purchasing and maintaining cutting-edge research equipment and facilities, enabling the department to stay at the forefront of biological research. The department’s success in securing research funding attests to the excellence and significance of its research.

Now that you have an idea about Johns Hopkins Biology, your college admissions into that university should be next on your mind. To ensure that you get into Johns Hopkins University, you can get help with AdmissionSight. With ten years of experience with college admission experts, AdmissionSight can help you get into Johns Hopkins University. You can talk to our experts today to get an initial consultation.


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